Established in 1911, Coombe Hill Golf Club near Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, is a mature woodland course that has won many plaudits for not just its challenges but also its natural beauty. But that does not mean it does not need periodic modification and development.
Sean Whipp, Course Manger at Coombe Hill Golf Club, commenced a modification programme at the club in 2005. Among the many tasks undertaken, a great deal of work was carried out to modernise and create various buggy paths and also create up to eight new tees. As this was all done using in-house labour, it was a big operation that generated a great deal of construction waste.
"We are surrounded by predominantly oak woodland," says Mr Whipp. "This essentially means we have to clear leaves from around 160 acres in the autumn. It is a big job that will produce between 80 and 100 tonnes of leaf litter a season."
Now consider this. Mr Whipp made the decision that all the scrapings from the course construction work would be recycled along with all the grass clippings that were collected from tees, greens, aprons and fairways during the summer months. In a typical season, this has meant he has been handling between 400 and 450 tonnes of soil, grass clippings and leaf litter a year and when the buggy path was installed there was up to 750 tonnes of waste soil to recycle. And he decided to compost the lot, returning it to the course as a fine, quality top dressing.
"It took a long time and a lot of work to come up with a composting system but we got there in the end," he says. "You need the area and a solid floor to allow the material to be turned and mixed to make quality compost. Without the infrastructure you cannot produce a quality material."
Adding that the resultant 'composted' top dressing is screened using an Ultra Screen, Mr Whipp says he is now in a position to easily handle the course's annual leaf litter load, investment in equipment to collect the leaves in recent years helping to speed up the process.
"We tried a number of blowers and vacuum collectors before selecting Trilo equipment from The Grass Group," he says. "We use a light B7 tractor mounted blower to clear the buggy paths, the unit blowing in both directions at once, meaning one lap around the buggy path and the path is clean. For larger areas, we clear using a really powerful BL960 blower and picking up leaf windrows with a 4 cubic metre capacity Trilo SG400 vacuum sweeper and a lighter Trilo SF150 vacuum mounted on a Toro Workman ."
Adding that the equipment has to work quickly and efficiently, Mr Whipp says the SG400 is also used to collect scarified debris from the fairways and is powerful enough to vacuum leaves from our ditch network too. But none of the collected organic matter goes to waste.
"We do not mix in sand or add anything to our composted material as this would be too difficult with the location of the composting site and the quantities we would need. This would also strain our budgets considerably, but we are producing a very good end product from what was considered waste years ago. Composting needs investment, infrastructure and patience. But with the right equipment it is well worth doing and beneficial to the course as a whole."
The Grass Group, Wadebridge Farm, Landwade, Exning, Newmarket Suffolk CB8 7NE UK
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